Anti-impunity for torture forum | EUNewsletter

Anti-impunity for torture forum

4 July 2014
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On 26 June a forum entitled “Putting an End to Impunity for Torture 2014” was held in the Nairi Hall of the Ani Plaza hotel, organised by “Foundation Against the Violation of Law” NGO and “Civil Society Institute” NGO with the support of the Armenian Ombudsman’s Office. The aim of the forum was to raise awareness about the unacceptability of torture and opportunities to prevent its occurrence in Armenia. ‘The fight against torture has been raised mainly only at the “statement” level. Statistics demonstrate that the number of registered cases of torture has increased, but that the number of court appeals and the number of officials held responsible for the use of torture has decreased,’ said Arman Danielyan, President of the Civil Society Institute in his opening speech.

According to Danielyan, torture is a widely practised by the police and is used as a method to extort evidence. He outlined the reasons for this phenomenon: low levels of professionalism among police officers, a lack of knowledge on techniques of obtaining evidence by other means, and a lack of public perception of torture as a crime. He went on to criticise the judiciary: ‘We will not have professional police until torture is stopped and no longer used as an easy means to extort evidence. In addition, the courts’ indifference towards statements on torture is alarming’.

Larisa Alaverdyan, Executive Director of the “Foundation Against the Violation of the Law” NGO, emphasised that the government’s anti-torture measures were insufficient, that society did not see any results, and that torturers escaped punishment, creating an atmosphere of impunity: ‘We live in the 21st century. We need to abandon this method at the state level and punish those who continue the practice’.

Alaverdyan also mentioned existing gaps in legislation, specifying that that the Armenian Criminal Code did not reflect the UN Convention against torture and that, for years, the official definition of “torture” in Armenia had not been brought into compliance with the requirements of the Convention: ‘The European Court of Human Rights defines six types of torture, inhuman and cruel behaviour. We can be given direction by these definitions; it is not as if we have to reinvent the bicycle’.

Yeranuhi Toumanyants, Head of Torture Prevention Department at the Ombudsman’s Office, urged victims of torture to seek justice earlier, as they often appeal to the Office too late after the incident, when it is impossible to take action.

Later that day, an open air concert entitled “Armenia without violence” took place on Aznavour square, in which several local rock bands took part. Before the concert began, the Civil Society Institute invited passers-by to participate in a game which tested awareness of the rights of persons detained by the police. The participants who gave correct responses to 10 out of 12 questions received the t-shirts from the “Foundation Against the Violation of the Law” NGO and the Civil Society Institute.

Anti-impunity for torture forum

On 26 June a forum entitled “Putting an End to Impunity for Torture 2014” was held in the Nairi Hall of the Ani Plaza hotel, organised by “Foundation Against the Violation of Law” NGO and “Civil Society Institute” NGO with the support of the Armenian Ombudsman’s Office. The aim of the forum was to raise awareness about the unacceptability of torture and opportunities to prevent its occurrence in Armenia. ‘The fight against torture has been raised mainly only at the “statement” level. Statistics demonstrate that the number of registered cases of torture has increased, but that the number of court appeals and the number of officials held responsible for the use of torture has decreased,’ said Arman Danielyan, President of the Civil Society Institute in his opening speech. According to Danielyan, torture is a widely practised by the police and is used as a method to extort evidence. He outlined the reasons for this phenomenon: low levels of professionalism among police officers, a lack of knowledge on techniques of obtaining evidence by other means, and a lack of public perception of torture as a crime. He went on to criticise the judiciary: ‘We will not have professional police until torture is stopped and no longer used as an easy means to extort evidence. In addition, the courts’ indifference towards statements on torture is alarming’. Larisa Alaverdyan, Executive Director of the “Foundation Against the Violation of the Law” NGO, emphasised that the government’s anti-torture measures were insufficient, that society did not see any results, and that torturers escaped punishment, creating an atmosphere of impunity: ‘We live in the 21st century. We need to abandon this method at the state level and punish those who continue the practice’. Alaverdyan also mentioned existing gaps in legislation, specifying that that the Armenian Criminal Code did not reflect the UN Convention against torture and that, for years, the official definition of “torture” in Armenia had not been brought into compliance with the requirements of the Convention: ‘The European Court of Human Rights defines six types of torture, inhuman and cruel behaviour. We can be given direction by these definitions; it is not as if we have to reinvent the bicycle’. Yeranuhi Toumanyants, Head of Torture Prevention Department at the Ombudsman’s Office, urged victims of torture to seek justice earlier, as they often appeal to the Office too late after the incident, when it is impossible to take action. Later that day, an open air concert entitled “Armenia without violence” took place on Aznavour square, in which several local rock bands took part. Before the concert began, the Civil Society Institute invited passers-by to participate in a game which tested awareness of the rights of persons detained by the police. The participants who gave correct responses to 10 out of 12 questions received the t-shirts from the “Foundation Against the Violation of the Law” NGO and the Civil Society Institute.